Alex Neil conceded that the service was facing both "problems" and "challenges".
But he rejected Labour health spokesman Neil Findlay's demands for a review, claiming he had failed to put forward any evidence to back up his claims the NHS was "under pressure like never before".
During a heated debate at Holyrood, Mr Findlay told MSPs organisations including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the British Medical Association (BMA) had voiced concerns about the NHS.
The Labour MSP said: "The Cabinet Secretary has a choice - he can either ignore those informed voices or he acts now and instructs a wide-ranging review of the health and social care system.
"As these voices have grown louder the Cabinet Secretary's response appears to be to stick his fingers deeper into his ears. This simply is not good enough.
"Our NHS needs to be staffed properly, it needs to be managed effectively and people need to have confidence in it.
"For the sake of our best-loved public service, I appeal to the Cabinet Secretary to initiate that review today."
He highlighted the number of days NHS staff had to take time off for stress-related illness last year, saying in NHS Tayside 24.5% of all sick days in 2012-13 were a result of stress-related conditions, adding 16% of sickness days in NHS Fife were for stress-related conditions, as well as 14% of sickness days in NHS Lanarkshire.
Mr Findlay said: "The reality is that the NHS in Scotland, the staff who work in it are under pressure like never before."
He highlighted "budget pressures" with "fewer staff being asked to do more for less" as some of the problems facing the NHS, along with "bed blocking, waiting times increasing" and a "skeleton weekend service" in hospitals.
Mr Findlay went on to claim junior doctors were "being left to look after up to 100 beds while working up to 100 hours a week" and that patients were being "left in trolleys and sometimes being treated in cupboards".
He said: "In the summer I called for a full-scale review of the NHS in Scotland. This call was not based on a whim or for narrow party political reasons.
"It followed wide-ranging discussions I had had with doctors, consultants, nurses, patients, trade unions and a range of stakeholders from across the NHS.
"The evidence they presented convinced me we need to look at the whole system to ensure the NHS is fit to meet the needs and demands of the 21st century. "
But Mr Neil hit back at the Labour MSP, saying: "To call for a review is the cry of a man and a party with no policy, no plans, no ideas and absolutely no vision."
He added: "The reality is the national health and social care system in Scotland today does clearly have pressures, but it isn't the basket case outlined by Mr Findlay, far from it."
"To call for a review is absolutely absurd."
Mr Neil continued: "Criticism based on lack of facts or on claiming things that are not true is not the way to criticise.
"What is required and what is demanded by the RCN and all these other organisations is action, including the 2020 action plan we have for the future of the National Health Service.
"We know the way forward. We also know the problems, we understand the problems and the challenges, and we know what needs to be done."
Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume said that while there are concerns over aspects of the NHS, including pressure on staff, his party did not support Labour calls for a review.
"The reality is that many frontline staff are under extreme pressure," he said.
"When you continue to pile pressure on any employee, corners may inevitably be cut.
"That might be tolerable in many professions, but when decisions and actions can mean life and death, then corner-cutting simply can't be tolerated."
Mr Hume said NHS workforce figures showed that there were significant vacancies in consultants, midwifery and nursing posts.
Recruitment issues should remain one of the Health Secretary's main priorities, he said.
"I don't believe that a full and costly comprehensive review is what our resources should be focused on, I'd rather money went on the hard-working nurses rather than expensive reviews, and the Cabinet Secretary concentrate on where we need to make improvements," Mr Hume added.
Conservative Jackson Carlaw called on both the SNP and Labour to stop "bragging and grandstanding" over their records on health.
He went on to suggest changes his party would make to the NHS, including changing the structure of the country's health boards.
"I envisage a slimmed-down board structure," he said.
"If we are to meet the challenges of providing the best health service for the people of Scotland...we must also more substantially beef up what we require of people in Scotland, by way of their commitment to the health service.
"For example, it is not acceptable to routinely fail to present for clinical appointments.
"Now is the time for us all to participate in a full and comprehensive debate at least of the NHS in Scotland."